Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Canucks/Hawks Game Day #1

The Canucks and Blackhawks get set to open up Round 2 at General Motors Place tonight. Four points separated the two teams during the regular season in a year where both clubs had the same number of home ice wins (24) and victories when scoring first (33).

The Canucks have not played since April 21 when they finished off their sweep of the St. Louis Blues. Including the end of the regular season, Vancouver enters this series riding a seven-game winning streak. Roberto Luongo enters the 2nd round of the playoffs leading the NHL in goals against average (1.15) and save percentage (96.2%).

The Hawks enter the Conference semi finals leading the NHL in playoff scoring (21 goals for). 15 Chicago players have collected at least a point while 10 players have registered 10 or more shots on goal. Chicago is also looking to cap off what's been a fantastic month of April. Including the regular season, the Hawks are 10-2-1 heading into tonight's game.

Nikolai Khabibulin is one of three players on the Hawks line-up that has a Stanley Cup ring (Tampa Bay 2004). Despite performing well in the opening round against Calgary, he has struggled against Vancouver. In his two losses this year against Vancouver, he had a 4.87 GAA and a save percentage of 80.0%. In fact he is 0-9-1 in his last ten appearances against the Canucks, with his last win coming in 1998 as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes!

Here are the expected line-ups for Game 1 this evening:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien



Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Andrew Ladd - Dave Bolland - Martin Havlat
Kris Versteeg - Sammy Pahlsson - Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Eager - Adam Burish - Troy Brouwer

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brian Campbell
Cam Barker - Matt Walker

Nikolai Khabibulin
Christobal Huet

And for what it's worth, today marks the 15th anniversary of Pavel Bure's double overtime heroics in Game 7 of Vancouver's first round playoff victory over the Flames in Calgary.

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